The Indian Grave Ridge circuit combines portions of VA 717, Toliver, Milford Gap, Massanutten, and Indian Grave Ridge trails, and is one of the least hiked circuits in the Massanutten range. This is probably due to people being put off by the VA 717 road walk. However the gravel road here sees very little traffic as it ends in another mile. This section of VA 717 is also is a pleasant walk beside the Shenandoah River. During the summer months you will see many people tubing and canoeing along this section.
Mile 1.05 - The Toliver Trail is yellow blazed. Pass around a closed gate where for the first 1.24 miles the trail is part of a forestry road. As the trail climbs Massanutten Mountain it will make two large sweeping turns. First to the left and then back to the right.
Mile 4.96 - Arrive at the intersection with the purple blazed Indian Grave Ridge Trail. Turn left/east downhill as the trail initially descends very steeply for the first 0.75 miles. Pass through a small saddle on the ridge and continue downhill until the Indian Grave Ridge Trail turns left at an intersection with another old hiking trail.
We chose this hike because of no stream crossings as it had just rained quite a bit. It was a good choice. The trail was soggy in places, but not too sloppy muddy. We were not able to find the first parking lot as the sign was missing. There was just a red post where the sign probably should have been. We drove on down to 236 and had no trouble parking there. The road sign was also missing there, but someone has painted the number on a stop sign. I was happy to see that there is an outhouse at the boat ramp, but it was locked.
Date of Hike: Friday, February 9, 2018
In thinking about this more, I definitely recommend the parking on 236. It is a large, flat lot a little way up the road just as described.
Date of Hike: Monday, December 25, 2017
Hiked it on Christmas Day and not only did I not see another person, I didn't even see a car, driving or parked on the ~2 mile stretch of dirt road. I did it backwards from parking lot 1 going up the purple blaze to the ridge so I could let my dog run off some energy on the trail and leave the road for when he's tired. Directions were pretty easy to follow, the top of the purple blaze was very steep. Great views on both sides of the ridge, but not many streams at all - glad I brought plenty of water.
Date of Hike: Friday, September 1, 2017
I enjoyed the several views very much. I was impressed how good they were considering the leafy trees. The views would be even more impressive with fewer leaves in the off season. I liked this hike overall. The descent from the ridge was quite steep at the start and a little annoying. Was glad I had one trekking pole -- I could have used two. I was confused a couple times on navigation and was glad to have the map and description, and also the trail route loaded into my GPS device.
No signs of others, not even boot prints, except for horse hoofprints along most of the trails. I agree with others that this is a solitary hike. Chiggers: I haven't been bothered by them in years of hiking in these parts but discovered about 50 chigger bites at home. No big deal but annoying. I don't know where they came from as the trail was relatively wide and I wasn't in brush or grass area, except where I parked my car. I would use insect repellent on this hike, especially around my ankles, next time.
Parking: For parking area 1, to get into the main part of the first parking area you need a high-clearance vehicle due to deep potholes. There is a little space for one low-clearance vehicle to the right before the main area, right as you turn off the road, in which I parked. The second parking area, after I hiked past it, seems the most convenient to me. The third parking area is a little indefinite but would work too. Use caution and watch out for vehicles while hiking the part along the road. There were not many vehicles.
I often use Google Maps to navigate from my home to hike parking areas by inputting the coordinates. I tried Waze this time, which took me to a dead end on the other side of the mountain. Went back to Google Maps which worked fine.
Date of Hike: Sunday, July 23, 2017
I parked at the first parking area and followed the route as prescribed. I would rate this 3.5 if I could. It's a tale of two halves. The first half is gravel road and fire road. This part of of Luray is so pretty that even the road walk is nice. However, it's not as nice as the back half. So nice and nicer for me. Once off of the roads the trail had a lot to offer as its characteristics change often. It's a pleasant walk in the forest. The views, while difficult to capture in a photograph due to the trees, are beautiful. If I do this again I think I will do an out and back on the second half.